Advertising product results? Put images closer together

May 14, 2013

Consumers believe a product is more effective when images of the product and its desired outcome are placed closer together in advertisements, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.

"Merely changing the spatial proximity between the image of a product and its desired effect in an advertisement influences judgment of product effectiveness. tend to judge the product to be more effective when the two are closer versus farther apart," write authors Boyoun (Grace) Chae (University of British Columbia), Xiuping Li (National University of Singapore), and Rui (Juliet) Zhu (University of British Columbia).

Many advertisements promoting the effectiveness of a product show both a product image (anti-wrinkle cream) and an image of the promised results (a face without wrinkles). Objectively, the distance between the two images should not affect how consumers judge the product's quality.

In a series of studies, consumers were asked to judge the effectiveness of a variety of products promising specific results (acne cream, pain reliever, spray, bug spray, fabric softener). Consumers tended to assume a product was more effective when its image was placed closer to that of its promised effect. The proximity of the images was more influential when consumers were less knowledgeable about a product category or when the results were expected sooner rather than later.

Companies should understand the subtle effect that spatial proximity between images has on consumer judgment of product effectiveness. When companies want to promote the immediate effects of their products, images of the product and its desired effect should be put closer to each other in an advertisement.

"The spatial proximity between of cause and effect in an advertisement can influence consumer judgments of product effectiveness. The closer the distance between an image of a product (an acne treatment) and that of its potential effect (a smooth face), the more effective consumers will judge the product to be," the authors conclude.

Explore further: How do beauty product ads affect consumer self esteem and purchasing?

More information: Boyoun (Grace) Chae, Xiuping Li, and Rui (Juliet) Zhu. "Judging Product Effectiveness From Perceived Spatial Proximity." Journal of Consumer Research: August 2013

Related Stories

Early product launches: How will consumers respond?

April 19, 2011

A new study in the Journal of Consumer Research explains why consumers often indicate they are willing to pay more for a product that is not yet available—but are reluctant to pay that price when the product is ultimately ...

Is the iPad Creative? It depends on who's buying it

March 5, 2013

Encouraging consumers to feel ownership of products they haven't yet purchased can backfire because consumers tend to see themselves in the products they own, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.

Recommended for you

Biologists trace how human innovation impacts tool evolution

November 24, 2015

Many animals exhibit learned behaviors, but humans are unique in their capacity to build on existing knowledge to make new innovations. Understanding the patterns of how new generations of tools emerged in prehistoric societies, ...

How experienced buyers can mitigate economic bubbles

November 19, 2015

(—Over the last decade, many people got a tough primer on the effects of economic bubbles, as the bursting of the 2007-2008 housing bubble sent shockwaves through most of the major world economies. But property ...

First Londoners were multi-ethnic mix: museum

November 23, 2015

A DNA analysis of four ancient Roman skeletons found in London shows the first inhabitants of the city were a multi-ethnic mix similar to contemporary Londoners, the Museum of London said on Monday.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.